Redmond Chamber Gala and Auction achieves zero-waste

The Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce added a new milestone to its annual Gala and Auction by becoming the first zero-waste event in chamber history.

Willows Lodge, Waste Management and the chamber diverted more than 270 pounds of compostable and recyclable materials generated by the Feb. 24 event. Held at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, the annual Gala served more than 170 guests.

The event generated:

• 24 plastic bottle caps;

• 39 beer bottle caps;

• 43 corks;

• 189 pounds of recyclables; and

• 73 pounds of compostables.

The only items not recycled were a small supply of disposable gloves used by the catering staff that filled less than a 2-gallon sized ice bucket.

Chamber Gala chairperson and owner of Marbella Day Spa and Boutique, Debra Cobain, was ecstatic with the zero-waste outcome.

“We've always looked for new ideas for our events, and being able to have something like (the zero waste event) I think was a home run,” Cobain said. “Being a part of this first time experience with Waste Management and the Chamber was amazing to see how we all worked together and had such great success.”

The extensive planning for the event included that all Gala items be recyclable, reusable, repurposed, donated or compostable.

All promotional materials including save the date cards, invitations, programs, bid sheets, and signage were recycled. Plastic stir sticks were replaced with compostable wooden stir sticks and curling ribbon was replaced with reusable fabric ribbon.

Organizers identified ways for corks and plastic bottle caps to be recycled or reused. Beer caps were given to a local mural artist.

Prior to the event, Willows Lodge and Waste Management worked together to educate the Gala committee members and Willows Lodge catering staff, to support and carry out the zero waste program. Strategically placed signs and collection containers made recycling simple for attendees and catering staff. Quality checks were made throughout the event to ensure material was being properly diverted to the correct bin.

At the end of the evening materials were gathered up and recyclables and compostables were set aside for future measurement. Last Monday morning following the event, Waste Management transferred the recyclables and compostables to their Woodinville location where they weighed and measured the container contents. The results showed more than 225 gallons of material weighing over 272 pounds was recycled or composted.

The Gala’s zero waste concept, initiated by Waste Management during the Gala Committees’ early planning stage, was immediately embraced by the Chamber and Willows Lodge. As the event planning unfolded it became evident that the zero waste theme brought a fresh idea to the 66th annual Gala, so much so that during the evening’s live auction, emcees John Curley and Jim Dever, donned Waste Management shirt and, tested the audience’s zero waste knowledge which added a unique twist to the evening’s local entertainment.

Cobain said she believes the community’s teamwork and spirit made the zero waste event possible.

“When we all come together and make the effort, especially for something for the environment and community, it really makes people step up and the power in numbers is limitless,” Cobain said.

For more information about this zero waste event or about creating a local sustainability event please contact Waste Management at (425)-825-2033.

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